Tuesday 3 November 2009

Mobile Device Stats

I've been looking at various mobile statistics recently and thought I'd put up a quick post on my findings so far.

I started with some work at Kizoom, analysing the traffic we see on our UK Transport services. This then led to my session at BarCampLondon7, in which I presented the session counts for mobile browsers from a sample month (September) in 2007, 2008 and 2009. I've published these results in a DabbleDB database at http://mobilesessions.dabbledb.com/ for your slicing and dicing enjoyment.

I was inspired by Bryan Rieger's article on mobiforge, where he tells developers to "Expect and manage diversity" and links to some great graphs from the deviceatlas data explorer showing how screen sizes differ across device release dates. However, fantastic though deviceatlas is, it doesn't capture the actual usage of the devices on mobile sites -- it just counts one for each device, no matter whether it's a popular Nokia or an almost unused Sagem.

I've tried to rectify this lack of popularity data by publishing the Kizoom sample data. It's not perfect and each year isn't quite the same sample (we've released and withdrawn various services across the time range), but it's a start. I've even tried putting the same data into IBM's manyeyes to get some alternate visualisations.

Some of the trends that I've been seeing coming out of this data are not surprising: the iPhone punches way above its weight in terms of mobile traffic, and screen sizes are getting bigger as the years go on. One trend that is slightly unexpected is the growing popularity of BlackBerry devices over the last few years -- at least it's surprising to me quite how popular they've become (showing third in the brand popularity for 2009 behind Nokia and SonyEricsson, and ahead of Samsung and Apple).

There's been some other data published recently that seems to support the same trends. The September AdMob metrics have recently been released and this month they're highlighting the change in devices from 2007 to 2009 (a popular theme!). Their stats show that the iPhone and iPod Touch are number one and two in the UK -- probably due to in-app ads supplementing the web usage, especially when considering that the HTC Android phones (not nearly as popular a phone as the Nokia N95) also manage slots in the top 10.

Ian Homer of Bemoko pointed out the StatCounter Global Stats site, which has some very nice stats and pretty graphs to go with them. This site provides sliceable worldwide stats from 3 million websites (240 million hits in UK). Since the sites may not be mobile specific, I would expect mobile devices used to browse "the full web" would take precedence over smaller, more phone-focussed devices.

Here's an example: Top 9 Mobile Browsers in Europe 2008/09

As expected, the iPhone and iPod Touch (or "iTouch") gets the majority of the traffic, with Nokia coming a strong second. NetFront is the browser used by SonyEricsson smartphones (and others) so comes fairly high in the rankings (it seems that StatCounter may have changed how they categorise SonyEricsson browsers in August 2009, as NetFront swaps with SonyEricsson -- this is even more apparent in their Mobile OS stats for the same region).

Once more, BlackBerry devices are making a strong showing in recent months, a gain which shows even stronger when the stats are shown just for the UK.

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